Blood Taste in the Mouth: 10 Causes (& What to Do)

A blood taste in the mouth can also be described as an iron  or metallic taste. It is often caused by poor oral hygiene, gingivitis, use of iron-based vitamins and supplements, nosebleeds, medication use, cancer treatment, sinusitis or it can be a sign of a stomach ulcer or acid reflux.

In some cases, in addition to the taste of blood, other symptoms may be noted, such as nausea, abdominal pain, headache, facial pain, heartburn, frequent belching and a feeling of a lump in the throat.

If you notice a blood taste in the mouth, you should consult a doctor for assessment and treatment. This may involve improving brushing habits, suspending or changing the dose of a medication, or dietary changes.

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Why do I taste blood in the mouth?

The main causes of a taste of blood in the mouth are:

1. Inadequate tooth brushing

Brushing your teeth too hard or with a toothbrush that is too hard can cause your gums to bleed, leading to a taste of blood in your mouth.

What to do: Be sure to brush your teeth less vigorously and to use a toothbrush with softer bristles and a more flexible head to prevent gum bleeding.

2. Gingivitis

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums that occurs due to the accumulation of bacterial plaque or tartar between the gums and the teeth. Due to swelling, the gums become more sensitive and can bleed and cause a blood taste when brushing your teeth, flossing or consuming very hard food.

What to do: You should consult your dentist for a teeth cleaning to eliminate accumulated plaque and tartar. You should improve oral hygiene habits and brush and floss your teeth twice twice a day. 

Also recommended: How to Get Rid of Gingivitis: 10 Home Remedies

3. Use of iron-based vitamins and supplements

The use of supplements or vitamins that contain iron, zinc, chromium and/or copper in their composition can also cause a metallic taste in the mouth, which can taste like blood.

Also recommended: Iron Supplements: When & How to Take (plus Types of Iron)

What to do: A blood taste in the mouth generally improves as the nutrients present in the vitamins are absorbed. However, if the taste of blood does not improve over time, you should consult your prescriber to determine whether this supplement should be suspended or swapped for an alternative.

4. Use of medications

Some medications may have a side effect of changes in taste and the taste of blood in the mouth. These medications, like antibiotics, antifungals, antidepressants, some antihistamines, diuretics, steroids and medications for osteoporosis or glaucoma, can interfere with saliva production.

What to do: A blood taste in the mouth usually resolves after finishing the medication. However, it is important to inform the prescriber of the side effect so that the possibility of adjusting the dose or swapping for another medication can be assessed.

5. Nosebleed

Bleeding from the nose can lead to blood dripping into the mouth through the through, especially when you tilt your head back. This can cause a blood taste in the mouth. Nose bleeds can happen due to blows to the area or it can be a symptoms of high blood pressure, a deviated septum or hemophilia. Read more about what causes nose bleeds.

What to do: To stop a nosebleed,  pinch your nostrils together for 5 to 10 minutes. If bleeding persists, you should see a doctor for further assessment to determine the underlying cause of bleeding and treatment. To get rid of the taste of blood in your mouth, simply brush your teeth and rinse your mouth with mouthwash.

6. Tuberculosis

One of the symptoms of tuberculosis is coughing up blood, which can cause a metallic or blood taste in the mouth. This condition is typically treated with antibiotics, which can also contribute to taste changes a blood taste.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria that invades the lungs and grows. It leads to symptoms such as difficulty breathing, low fever, cold sweat, persistent cough and chest pain.

What to do: It is important for a doctor to direct treatment, as this will help eliminate harmful bacteria and relieve symptoms. In cases where the taste of blood in the mouth is occurring as a side effect of the medication, it is important to inform the doctor, who will assess the possibility of adjusting the medication dose or type of medication used.

7. Sinusitis

Sinusitis is characterized by inflammation of the sinuses that causes symptoms such as facial pain, headaches, a plugged nose, cough, fever and a blood taste in the mouth, in some cases. This metallic taste is the result of high amounts of mucus accumulated within the face, which can run down the throat and cause a metallic taste.

Furthermore, constant coughing with sinusitis can also irritate the throat, leading to a taste of blood in the mouth.

What to do: Treatment should be directed by a doctor, who will likely prescribe medications for sinusitis that will facilitate the eliminate of secretions. You should increase your fluid intake and also perform steam inhalations. Bacterial sinusitis can be further treated with antibiotics.

Also recommended: Sinusitis Natural Treatment: 7 Tips to Relieve Symptoms at Home

8. Stomach ulcer

A stomach ulcer is a wound that form on the wall of the stomach, which can bleed and cause a blood taste in the mouth. Other common symptoms of a stomach ulcer include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and the presence of blood in the stool.

Learn more about what a stomach ulcer is and what can cause it.

What to do: It is essential to consult a gastroenterologist if a stomach ulcer is suspected so that testing can be ordered to confirm a diagnosis and guide treatment. Treatment for stomach ulcers involves the use of medications that reduce or inhibit stomach acidity, as well as analgesics and/or antibiotics, as well as changes in eating habits. In more serious cases, ulcer surgery may be recommended.


GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is characterized by the back-flow of stomach contents up into the esophagus. It causes symptoms such as a burning sensation and heaviness in the stomach, heartburn, belching, a dry cough and a lump in the throat. Due to the increase in acid content in the stomach, it is also possible to have a change in taste, or a blood taste in the mouth.

What to do: It is important to consult a gastroenterologist for treatment and symptom relief. The doctor may recommend diet changes, like maintaining a GERD diet, and the use of medications that reduce the amount of acid. 

Also recommended: GERD Medications: 7 Prescription Options to Relieve Reflux

10. Cancer treatment

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which are treatments indicated for the cases of cancer, can cause side effects such as inflammation in the mouth and changes to the functioning of the salivary glands. This can lead to oral bleeding and, consequently, a blood taste in the mouth. . Furthermore, as a result of these treatments, it is also possible to notice a  general change in taste and nausea, which also contributes to the taste of blood in the mouth.

What to do: Blood taste in the mouth from cancer treatment is a temporary condition, and typically improves over time. However, if it is permanent, it is important to inform your doctor to assess the need for adjustments to treatment.